If a fire breaks out in your home, getting out fast is the best way to escape injury or death. Rather than spend precious minutes trying to figure out what to do in the confusion of such an emergency, develop a home escape plan now and practice it with your family. Practicing a home escape plan is similar to going through a school fire drill. It takes little time, but knowing what to do in a fire emergency could help save your life and your children. More than 4,000 people die in fires in the United States each year. Deaths from failed emergency escapes are particularly avoidable.
Home Escape Planning Tips
- Draw a simple diagram or floor plan of your home showing all doors and windows.
- Identify and mark two escape routes from each room. One should be the normal exit. The other can be either through a window or another door. Draw arrows on the plan to show the ways out.
- If living in an apartment, identify fire exits and stairs.
- Pick a safe place outside where everyone can meet in a fire emergency.
- Instruct everyone to get themselves out of the house in case of a fire so no one will get hurt staying behind to look for the others.
- Go to a neighbor's or use a cell phone to call 9-1-1.
- Take the time to discuss and practice your escape plan with your family at least twice a year. Explain that it's similar to a school fire drill.
- During that practice, make sure windows are not jammed or blocked. Fix any that need repairs.
- Have your children practice opening windows and doors identified on your escape plan.
- Tape a copy of the escape plan to the back of each bedroom door.
Fire Safety Tips
- Install and maintain smoke detectors in hallways outside bedrooms.
- Always sleep with bedroom door closed. It can take a fire 10-15 minutes to burn through a wood door, giving occupants time to escape.
- Feel the door knob with your hand to test for intense heat before opening a door after a smoke alarm has sounded. If it's hot, use an alternate exit from the room.
- Escape first, and then notify the fire department.
- At your safe meeting place outside, take roll. Tell firefighters if anyone is still inside or if everyone is safe.
- Once you're safely outside, stay outside until a fire department official says it's safe to go back inside.